Rise and Momentum of Regional Engagements for Sustainable Palm Oil

Good news from Marrakech CoP22: seven African countries have demonstrated their commitment to addressing deforestation by pledging to shift towards sustainable palm oil production!

The TFA2020 Marrakech Declaration for Sustainable Development of the Oil Palm Sector in Africa brings governments of Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone who have come together to protect Africa’s biodiversity-rich tropical forests while developing the palm oil industry.

Governments of these seven countries will be implementing national action plans to develop a sustainable oil palm sector that takes into account the environmental benefits and commitment to zero net deforestation by 2020. The declaration also requires businesses to adhere to international agricultural and environmental practices on palm oil certification through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

In addition, five European countries – Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands and United Kingdom – have signed the Amsterdam Declaration in support to 100% Sustainable Palm Oil in Europe by 2020. These developments are a boost for global commitments to sustainable palm oil and send a signal to palm oil buyers on the increasing importance of sourcing sustainable palm oil.

Mature palm oil fruit
Mature palm oil fruit

A multi stakeholder effort

These declarations are game-changers in their respective regions and illustrate how the momentum of multi-stakeholder initiatives can guide national and regional institutions, private sector firms, smallholders, civil society organizations and local communities towards a sustainable industry.

An important element to note is that the emergence of both the Marrakech and Amsterdam declaration stemmed from multi-stakeholder platforms. The Marrakech declaration had been championed by the Africa Palm Oil Initiative (APOI), a Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 initiative involving multiple stakeholders, while the Amsterdam declaration was facilitated by the European Palm Oil alliances. Although the Marrakech and Amsterdam declarations do not give rise to binding rights or obligations, there is an engagement to regularly evaluate efforts and results.

Multi-stakeholder platforms such as APOI, and palm oil national alliances are thus truly ideal platforms to showcase results and to continue engaging the whole industry and consumers in the right direction.

In Asia, what’s next?

The recent creation of the regionally-focused Singapore Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil (SASPO) sets a precedent in Asia and creates the right conditions to promote and engage the transformation of the industry with national and regional institutions, private sector firms, smallholders, civil society organizations and local communities.


As SASPO gears up to kick off its activities at the end of the month, there is no doubt that it will set enabling conditions for a sustainable industry. Raising the demand for sustainable palm oil will be at the heart of the actions taken.

Gregory Bardies is the Corporate Relations Manager at WWF-Singapore.

You can learn more about sustainable palm oil and the work WWF-Singapore is doing for it here.

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